The Cherrytree Family

 

 

This classic American flint longrifle was built by R. Thomas Caster in the style of one of the best Lancaster County gun makers, Jacob Dickert.  The rifle is modeled after two Dickert pieces in the book Rifles of Colonial America, Volume 1 by Dr. George Shumway.  These original guns appear in Mr. Shumway’s work as rifles No. 48 and No. 49.  Following is the entry from this book describing the original gun No. 48:

 

"No. 48             Jacob Dickert

Length overall 54 1/8 inches.  Octagonal rifled barrel 39 inches long., .50 caliber.

    The script signature on the barrel of this well-preserved rifle is "J. Dickert."  Jacob Dickert is well-known as an important gunsmith of Lancaster who worked there from 1769, and possibly earlier, until his death in 1822.  He was born in Maintz, Germany in 1740 and came to America in 1748.  He apprenticed to some unknown master about 1755, at age 15, and probably became a journeyman in 1761 at age 21.  Where he worked from 1761 until 1769 is not known, for the earliest tax records for Lancaster begin in 1769.  He was a Moravian and it is possible that he had some association with the Moravian gunshop at Christian's Spring and with its master, Andreas Albrecht.  This rifle and the one that follows have striking similarities to the preceding piece, No. 46, by Albrecht, but it is possible that Albrecht made his rifle after 1771 in Lititz, just a few miles from where Dickert worked.

    The architecture of this stock is strong and well-defined.  The cheek-piece stands out well, and the front end of the comb is well formed.  Relief carving enhances these details and appropriately decorates the rifle.  The design carved behind the cheek-piece is a familiar form closely related to the design used at Christian's Spring by Oerter, and very much like the design on Albrecht's rifle.  The design carved in relief on top of the wrist also is very much like the corresponding designs on these other rifles.  The four-piece cast-brass patchbox has a finial design more typical of the Lehigh Valley region and Berks County, a symmetrical fleur-de-lis type of design.  By American longrifle standards the rear or setting trigger is unusual, being slanted to the rear, and straight rather than curved, a detail not uncommon on German wheellocks and flintlocks of the 17th and early 18th centuries.  The flintlock is of Germanic styling and doubtless of continental European origin."


The original gun (and hence, this reproduction by Tom Caster) is thought to have been influenced by the Moravian gun shop at Christian's Spring (near Nazareth, PA) and the shop's master, Andreas Albrecht, whose work also appears in Mr. Shumway’s book.  The rifle is stocked in curly maple, trimmed in brass, and is similar to the many longrifles built before and during the American Revolution.

 

         



The .50 caliber 42” swamped octagon barrel is from John Getz of the Getz Barrel Co.  The radial groove rifling has been done in a 1 in 66” rate of twist.  The light muzzle allows the rifle to balance nicely in the hands.  It weighs just under 9 pounds and has a trigger reach of 14”.

 

The curly maple stock of this long rifle is beautifully figured from toe to muzzlecap.  Hand carved from a maple blank, Mr. Caster used a Laurel Mountain Forge oil finish to bring out the tiger stripes in the stock.

 

     

    


Serious students of the longrifle will instantly recognize the early Dickert patchbox design.  The brass patchbox is hand engraved very closely to the original No. 48 and has a nice burnished patina finish that matches the rest of the brass furniture.  Correct steel screws are used to mount the brass patchbox and hardware.  The patchbox release button is located in the comb extension of the buttplate, rear of the retention screw.  A deep patchbox cavity is hidden under the domed brass patchbox lid.

 

 

         

 

Viewed from the top, this graceful early Lancaster County rifle features a tapered comb that ends in a wide buttplate, common in early guns.  The flared tang of the breech plug is surrounded by baroque style raised carving.  Two lock bolts stand above the brass sideplate.  The incised carving around the tang is repeated behind the ramrod entry pipe.  The early wide buttplate comb has five octagon flats in the comb, to echo the tapered octagon theme of the barrel. Note the patchbox release button to the rear of the steel screw.

This top view reveals the lovely figure achieved by the maker when he stained this gun.  The stock is correctly oil finished.

The smooth draw filed barrel and lock are cold blue finished with a patina that has the appearance of an antique that has been well maintained.  The slightly mottled colors of the finish are correct and traditional.  The maker's signature, R. T. Caster is engraved in script, on the top flat of the barrel, flanked by engraved hunters’ stars.

 

         

 

This bottom view shows the triggerguard, which is correctly mounted with two pins, no screws.  This photo reveals the width of the early buttplate, and the tapered lock panels, which are wider at the rear.  The triggerguard is filed with octagon flats, to match the tapered octagon theme of the swamped barrel.  The lock panels are surrounded by a raise carved skirt, with incised carving ahead of the triggerguard.

The cheek piece tapers wider at the rear, to recoil away from the cheek, with heavy loads.

 

 

         

 

Ignition is provided by this early Germanic style flint lock by Jim Chambers.  Finished with the same cold blue as the barrel, the lock plate has a hand forged appearance and fits perfectly with the rest of the rifle.

The double lever double set triggers are also early Germanic in style.  They allow the lock to be cocked, or the trigger to be set, in any sequence.

 

       

  

The early wide buttplate has a pleasant curve, comfortable to aim, engaging the shoulder to minimize recoil.  This side view shows the polished brass sideplate, and raised rococo carving that decorates the area ahead of, and behind the cheek.  An incised line forms a molding from the trigger to the toe.

 

 

         

 

 

The four piece patchbox has been finished to appear almost identical to that of the Dickert rifle that appears as No. 48 in Mr. Shumway’s book.  Properly engraved, its symmetrical Fleur-de-lis finial is very distinctive in design and is more typical of the Lehigh Valley and Berks County areas.  Properly retained by 5 steel screws, the patchbox lid is easily opened by depressing the button in the comb of the buttplate.

 

 

         

 

This final view of the raised and incised carving surrounding the cheek of the rifle shows the truly artistic talent of Mr. Caster.  The design accurately reproduces Dickert’s original work but also adds a bit of extra flare.  The up and down swept lines, right on and below the cheek make for a very pleasant transition from the front to rear of the buttstock.
 

 

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